2020 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Laviska Shenault
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: While Shenault didn't produce one of the biggest stat lines for 2018, he was one of the most impressive receivers in the nation, doing a ton for the Buffalos. Shenault was a clutch player who moved the ball and produced points for his offense while playing through some injuries. The sophomore caught 86 passes for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns. He also carried the ball in short-yardage situations out of the wild cat for 115 yards and five scores on 17 carries.
The 2019 season did not go as planned for Shenault. He was dinged up and played at less than 100 percent in many games Colorado quarterback Steven Montez was also very streaky, and that inconsistency hurt Shenault along with a steady stream of double teams. Shenault totaled 56 receptions for 764 yards with four touchdowns. The junior also ran for 161 yards on 23 carries - a 7.0 average - with two touchdowns.
Receiving weapons are in demand across the passing-driven NFL, so there should be plenty of teams considering using an early-round pick on Shenault. He was the engine of the Colorado offense in 2019 via his skill set, which will make him a weapon on Sundays.
Perhaps the trait that stands out the most about Shenault is his toughness. He is a thickly built receiver who plays the game the right way. Many wideouts with Shenault's strength and physicality are prone to pushing off of defensive backs, but Shenault has enough quickness to get open, and when he gets the ball in hands, he is special with the way he dodges and weaves by defenders while running through arm tackles. Shenault is very physical with defensive backs to power through tackles and get yards after contact. Cornerbacks really struggle to get him on the ground, and he is dangerous with his ability to produce quality gains on bubble screens and other easy completions because of his run-after-the-catch skills.
Shenault's toughness also could be seen in his ability as a short-yardage runner out of the wild cat. His pro team will probably very rarely use him like that because the coaches won't want to risk an injury to a starting receiver by giving him the pounding of a short-yardage running back. Still, his willingness to do it and the toughness to run the ball up the middle is impressive. It could be a package that is saved for critical situations in big games.
Shenault has quickness and shows a second gear when he gets into the open field. In the pros, he won't be a speed demon of a wide receiver who generates big separation from NFL cornerbacks, but he has some speed to make him dangerous and not limit him to being just a possession receiver. Shenault is pretty polished wideout who he runs good routes, tracks the ball well, has good body control, is a hands catcher, and has strong hands to make contested catches. He has the versatility to be a possessional wideout or challenge teams along the deep sideline.
Shenault is worthy of being a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. If he can stay healthy in the NFL, he has the potential to be a No. 1 receiver. With his size, quickness, route-running, and run-after-the-catch skills, he would be a great fit in a West Coast offense.
Player Comparison: JuJu Smith-Schuster. From a skill-set perspective of height, thickness, and quickness, Shenault reminds me of Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. They are almost identical in size, although Smith-Schuster (6-2, 210) is a little thinner than Shenault.
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